Israel rules out Palestinian state as part of settlement after Gaza war

Unanimous ministerial vote by Israeli cabinet ‘rejects international diktats regarding permanent settlement with the Palestinians’, insisting recognition of a state would reward terrorism

Israel has ruled out a Palestinian state as part of a post-Gaza war regional settlement.

“Israel utterly rejects international diktats regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” a cabinet statement said on Sunday, following a unanimous vote by ministers. “Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7th massacre would be a massive and unprecedented reward to terrorism and would foil any future peace settlement.”

The vote followed comments by US secretary of state Antony Blinken over the weekend, holding out the prospect of normalisation between Israel and the Arab world as part of a post-war settlement, including steps towards Palestinian statehood.

Meanwhile, contacts over a ceasefire and hostage release deal appear to be at an impasse. Qatar, one of the key mediators at the Cairo talks, admitted to difficulties in the negotiations.


“The pattern in the last few days [is] not really very promising, but we will always remain optimistic and will always remain pushing,” said Qatari prime minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a press conference over the weekend that progress in talks about a hostage deal would only become possible after Hamas backs down from its “excessive demands”.

“Israel went quite far in the negotiations, and we received nothing except delusional demands from Hamas. Demands about the Temple Mount; demands to end the war and to leave Hamas intact; demands to leave Gaza; demands to release thousands of murderers,” he said. “Obviously, we won’t accept them. But once Hamas backs down from those delusional demands, we will be able to make progress.”

Hamas is also showing little flexibility. The organisation’s political bureau director Ismail Haniyeh said Hamas would not agree to “less than a complete end to the aggression, an IDF withdrawal, lifting the siege from Gaza, returning the displaced people to the northern Gaza Strip and a pledge to rebuild the Gaza Strip”.

On the ground, the fighting continues. The Israeli army claims to have arrested 200 militants in and around the compound of Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza’s largest medical facility, including people who it claims participated in the October 7th attacks and others who had held Israelis hostage.

Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra reported on Sunday that the hospital had stopped functioning because there was no power and not enough staff to treat remaining patients.

“It’s gone completely out of service. There are only four medical teams – 25 staff – currently caring for patients inside the facility,” he said.

Some 29,000 people have been killed in Gaza according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on October 7th and more than 250 kidnapped.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz warned on Sunday that if the hostages are not returned by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on or around March 10th, the Israeli military will expand its assault to Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than a million war refugees have found temporary shelter.

“To those who say the price is too high, I say clearly: Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages, and the residents of Gaza can celebrate Ramadan,” he said.

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